Whips, shades, dead chickens and other props that make you look cool in Bollywood
When you're watching a Bollywood film, how do you know if the character is seriously cool? In case of Finding Fanny, Deepika Padukone is carrying a bloody cleaver and a dead chicken. To some of us, this makes her uncannily reminiscent of the guy in the neighbourhood meat shop. However, that is not the intention. You're supposed to pick up that Padukone's Angie is cool, edgy and a little bit dangerous. (Also, sexually frustrated, perhaps. First she's chopping chickens and then she's telling us she's a widowed virgin. Really brings on the sniffles, doesn't it?)
Basically, the va-va-vroom! attitude that vintage Bollywood communicated using a pair of enormous sunglasses and/or a lit cigarette now requires a dead animal and a sharp cooking implement. Here's a quick look at a few of the details that have made Bollywood stars seem badass in movies over the years. Did we miss some of your favourite props? Let us know in the comments.
Weapons of Minor Destruction
Fearless Nadia's Princess Madhuri has a whip that she wielded with some cracking effect in Hunterwali. Princess Sangeeta in Rajkumar saw Sadhana as a tribal princess who was an ace archer. Shahenshah had a noose and, taking a tip from Iron Man, a metallic hand. On more than one occasion, Rekha has held a gun in her hand, no doubt turning all those who subscribe to Freud's theory about phallic symbolism into puddles. The key here is that in the hands of a villain, all these things become signifiers of evil and cruelty. But when the good guys get their hands on these weapons, you're supposed to feel awe, admiration and perhaps even let out a few lusty sighs. In case of Bollywood props, awesomeness lies in the hands of the wielder.
As classic tropes go, this is one is a favourite. No matter who wears the sunglasses — hero, heroine, villain, sidekick — the message is the same: they're the coolest kids on the block. Remember Zeenat Aman in Hare Rama Hare Krishna? Or Rajinikanth in virtually every film of his. In fact, sunglasses lend so much cool to actors on screen that a number of them wear them off screen too. It can get impractical when one's inside and not in sunlight — on more than one occasion, Saif Ali Khan, Sonam Kapoor and Shah Rukh Khan have been seen stumbling as a result of wearing sunglasses in dimly-lit multiplexes — but hey, you've got to do what you've got to do when the world needs you to be cool.
Cigarettes and alcohol
These two have been lending an edge to heroes, villains and vamps for decades. Remember Nadira with the cigarette in its holder? Or Helen caressing a glass of an unidentified alcoholic beverage that looks remarkably like watery, milk-less tea? From Pran to Gulshan Grover, almost every villain worth his salt has had a cigarette. Men smoking tends to be code for machismo. In case of women, smoking used to be a sign that she was arrogant and then transformed into a euphemism for being promiscuous. Or, at the very least, a tease. Today, if it's a Madhur Bhandarkar film, a woman with a cigarette means complete moral degradation. In most other filmmakers' cases, cigarettes denote urbane modernity.
Inventive architecture and interior design
One of the true tragedies of contemporary Bollywood is that as far as villains and their lairs are concerned, the industry has lost its imagination. Who can forget Mogambo's place in Mister India? The architect deserves the highest award for figuring out how to build a mansion on a pit of boiling lava. Don't calculate the airconditioning bills; just think about the panache with which the laws of physics have been demolished. Then there was Shakaal's underwater hideout in Shaan, with its control panel for multiple deathtraps. It's the kind of thing that we imagine CIA would want. Going for a back-to-nature-meets-tribal-art-meets-astronomy aesthetic, Teesri Aankh gives its villain an office that's beyond belief. One wall is rock, another has the solar system (or random planets at any rate) that lights up randomly. For some reason, there are many golden owls in this lair and a smoke machine. And a spaceship. See for yourself in this fantastic song, called Superman Superman. (One of our favourite moments is when Dharmendra picks up a man wearing pink, plastic body suit and an outsized bunny head, and flings him into, well, space.)
Updated Date: Jul 09, 2014 16:16:38 IST